Grand European Sojourn - 2019

Germany • Austria • Hungary • Bulgaria • Croatia • Serbia • Romania
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Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Transylvania, Romania

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Bucharest to Bonn

Pre-Trip Extension

Transylvania, Romania

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DAY 1:

Fly overnight to Bucharest, Romania

Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Romania, arriving in Bucharest on Day 2. Upon arrival, we have the remainder of the day to rest up after our journey.

DAY 2:

Welcome Briefing and Dinner in Bucharest (or begin your trip earlier with an optional Transylvania extension)

If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you at the Bucharest airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel. Settle in, then gather at the hotel for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner. (Or, if you like, begin your trip earlier with our optional Transylvania extension.)

Included Meals:


DAY 3:

Traveling through Transylvanian history

Today we’ll venture into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. On the way, we’ll stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat, and visit fairy-tale Peles Castle. As we enter Transylvania proper, you’ll see why it’s known as the last medieval landscape in Europe. You’ll return to Bucharest in the afternoon. Dinner is included at the hotel restaurant.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 4:

Explore Bucharest, embark ship in Giurgiu 

Explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. You can visit the infamous People’s Palace, the grandiose, sprawling, and never-completed administrative building initiated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Alternatively, take a fascinating tour of Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest’s oldest hotel building, which was built as a way station for caravans and surrounds a large open courtyard.

After lunch in Bucharest, we’ll transfer to Giurgiu, where we'll embark ship and begin our river cruise.

Please note: For travelers who purchased the pre-trip extension to Transylvania, Days 3 and 4 of the base program are equivalent to Days 7 and 3 of the extension, respectively. Travelers will join the Base Program on Day 4 and embark ship in Giurgiu.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

Enjoy a captivating day in Veliko Tarnovo, including lunch with students, choir performance, and onboard entertainment

Step ashore for a full-day tour to Veliko Tarnovo, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River. Cultural Connection: While in Veliko Tarnovo, you’ll have lunch with university students. You’ll continue to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi, where you’ll be treated to a heavenly Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Cultural Connections: You’ll be delighted by a Bulgarian children’s dance group, a perennial favorite with Vantage travelers. Later, witness a fascinating icon painting demonstration on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, and a Balkan-style BBQ party

Watch centuries of history glide by as your European river cruise floats along the beautiful and dramatic gorges known as the Iron Gates of the Danube. This afternoon, you're invited to a special Balkan BBQ lunch on the sun deck (weather permitting). Cultural Connection: Enjoy a presentation by your Cruise Director on "Romania, Bulgaria, and the EU." This evening, you're a guest at the Captain’s Cocktail Party.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Belgrade, and a walking tour of Donji Milanovac village

More beautiful scenery unfolds today as we continue cruising, and pass through two sets of locks. You’ll hear onboard commentary from the bridge explaining the technical process of the locks before arriving in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. You'll also enjoy a walking tour in charming Donji Milanovac, a picturesque village set at a bend in the river. Cultural Connection: Get a feel for rural Serbian life past and present as we visit the Church of St. Nikolas and a local elementary school, where you'll hear a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century that is now widely used throughout the Slavic world.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

Inside Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress

Cultural Connection: After an informative lecture on modern Serbia, you'll discover the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history has left the city somewhat disheveled — yet you’ll be impressed by bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of the residents. You’ll also visit Kalemegdan Fortress. This afternoon, you may want to take advantage of the optional tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace. If you're up for something a bit more adventurous, speak to your Concierge about where you can rent a canoe or kayak on the river. Tonight, enjoy the Captain's Gala Dinner onboard, followed by local entertainment.

Cultural Connection: Ready to raise your glass? Then, prepare to set off on a festive pub crawl later this afternoon.

Water Sport opportunity: Rent a boat or kayak during your free time.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Tito's Memorial and Royal Palace

Tito's Memorial and Royal Palace

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Belgrade, Serbia
  • When: Afternoon Tour
Start your tour at the Royal Compound in Dedinje, a fashionable district of Belgrade. King Alexander I Karađorđević built it for his family in the 1920’s, before his assassination in 1934 changed the course of Yugoslavian history. Today, the Crown Prince Alexander Karađorđević and his family live in the Royal Palace. You’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the grounds, the Royal Palace, and the Church of Saint Andrej the First-Called, along with a welcome drink. Your next stop is the memorial to former President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito and the museum showcasing tributes he received during his rule.

DAY 9:

Hello, Croatia: Exploring Vukovar and Osijek

Discover Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port whose history dates back to the 6th century, when Slavic tribes first settled here. Cultural Connection: You’ll also visit the vibrant university city of Osijek, where you’ll meet a Croatian family while enjoying lunch in their home. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Croatia’s independence firsthand. If you’re around Osijek when school is in session, you’ll also visit an elementary school classroom and meet the children, or you’ll attend a guitar concert in a church courtyard. Tonight, enjoy local entertainment on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Exploring Pécs, the Basilica of St. Peter, and the Roman Necropolis

From Mohacs, you’ll set out on an excursion to Pécs, where a city tour will feature the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter and the Roman Necropolis — together recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those who enjoy additional walking can also visit the Museum Quarter. Savor lunch in Pécs at a local restaurant. Cultural Connection: Tonight, some folkloric dancers come onboard to entertain us!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

Discovering Hungarian traditions and cuisine in Kalocsa

Today, you’ll visit the town of Kalocsa, where you’ll enjoy a city tour that includes workshops on folk painting, folk embroidery, and the making of traditional Hungarian paprika bread, as well as an organ concert. Sample Hungarian specialties during lunch on board. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Cultural Connection: You'll take part in an insightful Folklore Workshop today. Later, you'll depart for the Hungarian capital: Budapest.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Puszta Tour

Puszta Tour

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 Hours
  • Location: Kalocsa, Hungary
  • When: Afternoon tour
Get a glimpse of Hungarian country life with a visit to a working horse ranch that maintains a herd of up to 120 horses. Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed with wine, bread, and onion slices. Watch authentic Hungarian csikós (cowboys) display their prowess on horseback. Next, take a carriage ride into the puszta, Hungary’s scenic great plain. As a special treat, a shepherd’s wife will provide homemade scones (pogacsa) and brandy (palinka). Before leaving, you’ll be able to visit the animals, including the Hungarian grey cattle, the long-haired “mangalica” pig herd, and the cheeky, clamorous donkey foals.

DAY 12:

Panoramic tour of Budapest, then traverse the city on your own by foot or bike

Begin the day with a panoramic city tour of regal Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll take in the spectacular panoramic views of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion, a magnificent terrace overlooking the Danube. The rest of the day you’re free to explore Budapest at your own pace. 

Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

Budapest at your own pace: Free day to shop, explore, or take an optional tour to the “living village” of Hollókő

Enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to ride along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street. You can also join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókó, a "living village" of early rural life that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Hollókő: A Step Back in Time

Hollókő: A Step Back in Time

  • Approximate Cost: $109 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 7 hours
  • Location: Budapest, Hungary
  • When: Full-day tour, including home-hosted lunch
A scenic journey back in time, into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, takes you to the medieval UNESCO World heritage village of Hollókő. Here life follows the same patterns it did centuries ago — the houses are built in a medieval style with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, and the locals still honor age-hold customs and dress in traditional embroidered clothing on special occasions — such as your arrival! You'll be greeted with singing, dancing, and a snack of Hungarian cheesecake. Then, in small groups, we'll be invited into a home for lunch — a truly wonderful way to meet people of Hungary. Afterwards, you'll take a walking tour through the village's cobbled streets.

DAY 14:

Delving into Hungary’s musical heritage — and goulash

Today you'll tour the Hungarian State Opera House, an opulent masterpiece of neo-Renaissance architecture where greats such as composer Gustav Mahler performed. A statue in front of Ferenc (Franz) Liszt reminds you of Hungary’s storied musical heritage. Much of the structure was destroyed by American bombing during World War II, then restored afterwards. Cultural Connection: You'll also sample some amazing cake and coffee at the famed Café Hauer, an atmospheric landmark of Budapest’s legendary coffee culture. Alternatively, you can choose to take our Hungarian Horse Show optional tour, where you'll be given a tour of the Lazar Equestrian Park in addition to a delightful horse show.

Culinary Feature: Learn how to make goulash, and then sample this superb regional dish.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Hungarian Horse Show

Hungarian Horse Show

  • Approximate Cost: $65 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4.5 hours
  • Location: Budapest, Hungary
  • When: Half-day tour
Enjoy the romantic scenery of the countryside as you visit the Equestrian Park of the Lázár brothers, who have won several world championships in carriage riding. Hungarian horsemen will welcome and accompany you to the inn’s yard where you will enjoy the famous Hungarian “pálinka” (brandy) before going to the show. The horse show features varied styles of dressage and fun competition with guests. After the show, a carriage awaits you for a scenic ride through the surrounding area.

DAYS 15:

Vienna: From the Ringstrasse to the Heurigen

Cultural Connections: During the morning's sailing, attend a German language presentation and an apple strudel baking demonstration on board. Unforgettable Moment: After lunch on board, our ship arrives in Vienna, where you'll have your choice of two tours: either the Museum of Art History or Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the grandest of European castles. Your evening is at leisure, or you may join an optional wine tasting tour and dinner at Heurigen Wolff this evening. Cultural Connection: Back on board this evening, warm-up dancers offer more entertainment!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Viennese Heurigen Dinner, Wine & Music

Viennese Heurigen Dinner, Wine & Music

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • When: Evening tour, including dinner

The congenial atmosphere of cozy, family-style wine taverns, known as heurigens, is perfectly complemented by hearty food, lively music — and locally produced vintages, of course. Heurigens traditionally have rustic decor, open courtyards with outdoor seating, and an accordion player playing traditional Viennese songs. You’ll visit an authentic heurigen for dinner, music, and wine! You can look forward to a fun and festive evening!

DAYS 16:

Musical explorations in Vienna, private evening Kursalon concert

This morning you'll learn about the heritage of Musical Vienna during an onboard lecture. Join a city tour of Vienna including entrance to Liechtenstein Palace. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps you can schedule a visit to a spa in Vienna through our Vantage Concierge Service, or take one of the complimentary bicycles on board the ship for a ride. Unforgettable Moment: This evening, you’ll be treated to a private classical music concert at the Kursalon. Cultural Connection: Return to the ship for dinner, followed by onboard waltz lessons!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 17:

Scenic Wachau Valley cruising, wine tasting dinner

Depart Vienna and settle back to enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of our journey. The Cultural Landscape of the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable for its architecture, vineyards, monasteries, and orchards. As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Wine Feature: Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 18:

Embark on a walking tour of picturesque Passau

Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube river. Cultural Connection: Join a local artist for a lesson on how to capture the local scenery with a brush.

Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along a scenic 10-mile route (moderate level). Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 19:

Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms

You’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Roman era. A morning walking tour reveals what many call the most charming town on the Danube River — it's sure to be a highlight of your Europe river cruise.

Cultural Connection: Join the chef for another interactive cooking lesson, featuring a local specialty! 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 20:

Nuremberg, customized for you — experience the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history

This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the delightful Toy Museum. Your afternoon is at leisure. Cultural Connections: Hear a presentation titled "Made in Nürnberg" before dinner. Then, delight to more onboard entertainment: The Bavarian Brass Band!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 21:

Altmühl Valley sailing, walking tour of Bamberg, wine tasting dinner

Cultural Connection: While we cruise this afternoon, attend a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, one of Europe’s greatest engineering feats. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl Valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is also an opportunity to partake in a cooking demonstration today, one of several available on your journey.
Wine Feature: Tonight’s delicious dinner onboard includes a pairing of wines with insights on their local production.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 22:

Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz

Your European river cruise continues to Würzburg. Here, you'll set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture. Alternatively, you may join an optional tour of medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cultural Connection: Later this afternoon, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.”

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Full-day Rothenburg Tour with Christmas Museum

Full-day Rothenburg Tour with Christmas Museum

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 8.5 hours
  • Location: Würzburg, Germany
  • When: Full-day tour

Picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber features winding cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered houses, as well as massive towers and intact city walls around the Old Town where one can take in views over both the city and the Tauber valley. Known for its “eternal Christmas” atmosphere, the town’s various shops sell beautiful, handcrafted Christmas gifts and souvenirs all year round. Come December, the area comes to life with the famous Christmas Market, one of the most romantic markets in Germany. You’ll take a walking tour and pay a visit to the Christmas Museum; plus, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the shops and take in the stunning views.

Note: Christmas Museum is not available during holiday season departures.

DAY 23:

Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, featuring a BBQ lunch and traditional live music

Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day today will be a delightful half-day tour of a local German village, during which we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 24:

Day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg

Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone looming above the downtown and see the castles famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. Afterwards, descend via funicular from the castle to the town center to stroll the pedestrian-only main street and have a traditional German lunch in a local restaurant. Cultural Connection: Transfer back to the ship where dinner and more onboard entertainment awaits. Tonight, it's the 4 Virtuosos. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 25:

Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you

Today we'll arrive in Rüdesheim, where you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. You can also embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments.

Wine Feature: Your third choice of tours is a newly added wine tasting walking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages! Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, which will be followed by onboard entertainment.

Scenic Sailing: After returning to the ship for lunch, enjoy some scenic sailing down the Rhine featuring onboard commentary from our Cruise Director. Some highlights include Lorelei, a steep slate rock that sits at the center of local lore and has enamored singers, poets, and viewers for centuries. We’ll also pass a series of castles along the Rhine Gorge, and your Cruise Director will identify them and offer some history!

Cultural Connection: Tonight, attend the Farewell Dinner, followed by more onboard entertainment, featuring a musical theater highlight show.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 26:

Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne

This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center, which includes a Kölsch beer tasting. 

Biking Opportunity: Enjoy this scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 27:

Disembark in Bonn and transfer to the Frankfurt airport for return flight home

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension.

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Amsterdam, Netherlands


Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.

Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.

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Grand European Sojourn - 2019

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